December 27, 2014

Potato Soup


I do love soup.  It is one of my favorites year-round, but it is especially comforting in the winter, don't you think?  Cudjoe and I have both been a bit under the weather, and soup just seems to be the best thing to eat when you're not feeling well.   


It is creamy, comforting deliciousness.   After boiling the potatoes, I add a creamy white sauce and pour it over the potatoes.   I thin it out with 2% milk until it is the consistency that I like.  I then add grated cheddar cheese and real bacon bits on top.  Yes, I prefer the real bacon bits that come in a jar rather than frying my own bacon because I am grossed out by chewy bacon fat.

Potato Soup:

2 to 3 potatoes
Butter
Flour
Cream
Milk (for this recipe, I used 2% milk)  
Salt, pepper
Grated cheddar cheese
Real Bacon Bits

Peel, dice and boil potatoes in salted water until done.
Drain potatoes.

For the white sauce:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, whisk in two tablespoons of flour, add 1 cup of heavy cream and stir over medium heat (stirring constantly so it won't stick), salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over potatoes and add milk to thin to desired consistency.

Ladle into bowls and add grated cheese and real bacon bits to top.

Serve to family and friends!!
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December 14, 2014

Christmas Fudge




This is the easiest fudge to make.  I honestly had no idea about this fudge until just the other day.  I always make fudge by using evaporated milk, marshmallows, sugar, butter, vanilla, salt.  You have to cook it on the stove on medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil and continue to cook it for five minutes, stirring constantly.   This is Sweetened Condensed Milk, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, a dash of salt, and vanilla.  That's it.   You can add nuts, but I'm not a fan.


I made this to give as a Christmas gift in a cute little Christmas tin.  I've got to get it out of the house, or we will eat it until it's gone :(  Not a good idea.  But it is a good idea to give it to a friend!  


The cake plate I'm keeping.   Isn't it beautiful?  I got it for my birthday one year from my wonderful son and my angel daughter-in-law.  We were shopping in an antique store in Decatur, Illinois, and I saw it and commented on how beautiful it was, and they surprised me with it!!  It's my favorite.

I found the recipe here.   Serve to family and friends!

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December 9, 2014

Angel Food Cake with Orange Glaze and Candied Cranberries


I started to called this post "I Got My Duncan Hines On" . . . but reconsidered.  


I actually thought for just a minute of making an angel food cake "from scratch" but decided I'd rather just use the box mix.  So much easier.


I made this cake Sunday for Hubbie and I.   This is a very festive looking cake and would be great to serve at a holiday gathering.

Without further conversation about it, this is how I did it:

Angel Food Cake with Orange Glaze and Candied Cranberries:

Angel Food Cake:

1.  Prepare the angel food cake per package instructions.
2.  After it has cooled, remove it from cake pan and place on a plate.

Orange Glaze:

1.  One Cup of Powdered Sugar.
2.  Two Tablespoons of Fresh Orange Juice
3.  Four Tablespoons of Milk or enough to make the glaze desired consistency.
4.  Pour glaze over cake.

Candied Cranberries:

1.   Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan and cook until sugar is dissolved.
2.  Pour cranberries into the simple syrup and then roll them in sanding sugar and arrange on cake.

Serve to family and friends!!
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November 18, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside and Vegetable Beef Soup


With the record low temperatures we've been experiencing, it's time for soup.  There's nothing like a pot of soup on the stove and crusty bread in the oven to shout comfort on a cold, snowy day.

My grandmother used to make vegetable beef soup with ground beef rather than stew meat, and I have always preferred vegetable beef soup that way.   You get a bite of ground beef with every spoonful!  


I don't remember exactly how she made her vegetable beef soup, but this is pretty close.


Here's how I made this delicious bowl of soup:

1 pound of ground chuck
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1 can of mixed vegetables
A couple of hands full of Ditalini pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 32 ounce box of beef broth
And this much Italian Seasoning:


Or to taste.

1.  Brown the ground chuck (I salt and pepper the ground chuck), and after it starts to turn color, add the garlic.  Continue to cook until done and drain the excess fat.

2.   Add the can of diced tomatoes, mixed vegetables, beef broth, pasta, and Italian Seasoning.

3.  Give it a taste test, and add extra salt, pepper, and more Italian seasoning, if needed.

4.  Simmer until pasta is done.

This is great served with warm crusty bread.

Serve to family and friends!! 


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November 11, 2014

Twice Baked Sweet Potatotes


Sunday I roasted a turkey breast, roasted brussels sprouts, and made twice baked sweet potatoes.  So easy and so delicious.  They were the star of the show.


Sort of a precursor to Thanksgiving.  Actually, we eat turkey breast all year.  It's one of my favorites.  I like to use the left-over turkey to make sandwiches for lunch.  I baked the sweet potatoes for an hour.  Cut them in half and mashed the potato with a fork.  I added a pad of butter, brown sugar, and mixed it into the potato.  I then added miniature marshmallows to the top and put them back in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes until they were toasted.   Yummy.


Try them.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  (Unless, of course, you are like my daddy, and you don't like sweet potatoes, then, you would probably be disappointed . . . )

Perfect to serve to family and friends!




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November 5, 2014

Wisnie and Blue Cheese Crostini


I recently made crostini with Ricotta Cheese, Wisnie, and Blue Cheese Crumbles on toasted baguette slices.


The Wisnie was a gift from my husband's daughter and son-in-law.  They live in Italy and travel quite extensively and brought this to us for Christmas.  Wisnie is a Polish jelly that is made from cherries.


I sliced the baguette, buttered each slice, and toasted it in the oven under the broiler.  I then spread on some ricotta cheese, the Wisnie and blue cheese crumbles and returned it to the oven to slightly melt the blue cheese.  I then added a little locally made honey to each crostini.


It was awesome.  Lots of wonderful flavor and great to serve this time of year with your favorite soup!






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October 29, 2014

Caramel Apples


All caramel apples are not created equally.   When my son and daughter-in-law lived in Decatur, Illinois, we would go to Del's Popcorn Shop for their caramel apples and caramel popcorn.  They had the best caramel apples I have ever eaten.  My son and daughter-in-law don't live there anymore, and I was pretty much craving a Del's caramel apple.  So I decided to make them myself.  This is the first time I have made caramel apples, and I actually made them twice.  The first time, after the apples had set for awhile, the caramel slid off.   They turned out better the second time around.

I used local apples.  Union County has many apple orchards as well as peach orchards and grows lots of fresh vegetables and other fruits, as well.   As a matter of fact, one time when we were at Del's, I saw the boxes of apples, and they were from orchards here in Union County.   We definitely have "Union County Bounty".  

My caramel apples were good, but not near as good as the ones from Del's.  Ah, well, I'll have to try again.  I'm sure they've had lots of practice!!

Here's how I did it:

4 to 6 apples
13 ounce package of Kraft caramels
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
Nut Topping
Popsicle sticks
Wax paper
Canola Oil Spray

Spray wax paper with canola oil.  Wash the apples in hot water and dry them with a clean towel.  Remove stems from apples and push popsicle sticks into apples. 
Melt the caramels using a double boiler or a glass or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Stir in two tablespoons of heavy cream.   When caramel is melted and creamy, dip each apple to coat with caramel and roll in nut topping.  Place caramel apples on wax paper to set.  (Be sure and eat any nuts and caramel left on the plate after rolling apples in topping.  This is the best part!)  Serve to family and friends.


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October 24, 2014

A Dishcloth Extravaganza




This past summer I knit a kitchen table full of dishcloths.   They are great to knit in the summer for obvious reasons.  They are easy to take with you while in the car for short trips, long trips, while on the beach, while waiting in the doctor's office, or while watching your favorite TV shows.

Speaking of favorite TV show, I may have found a new one, which is pretty difficult for me to do.  All these channels, and I feel like there's nothing to watch!  Last night I stumbled across a show on HGTV called "Rehab Addict".   Old houses that are in pretty bad condition are restored to their original beauty, and some of the restoration is done on a budget (I really like this part).  I  love old homes, perhaps because I grew up in a town full of old homes:  Victorians, bungalows, Craftsmen, to name a few.  The home I owned there was built circa 1908, and we restored it.  I always think old homes have such stories to tell and have such character!!

Well, back to my regularly scheduled dishcloth entry.  Hand  knit dishcloths are the only ones I use.  I also give them as host or hostess gifts.  It is nice to have a stockpile of them so you can grab a few of them to take along when you're invited for dinner.





I knit my cloths with Peaches & Creme which you can find at Walmart.  It is very soft and cushy.  For these dishcloths, I used the Ballband Dishcloth pattern, the The "Infamous" Darrell Waltrip Cloth pattern, and The Almost Lost Washcloth Pattern, which I modified.


I hope you enjoyed my "dishcloth extravaganza",  and I hope I inspired some of you to cast on!

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October 14, 2014

Jambalaya


Do any of you remember when you would stop by a friend's house to have a cup of coffee or hot tea and a visit, and your friend would be cooking something for supper, and you would ask her for the recipe, and she would give you a trusty recipe card, and you would write the recipe on the card to take home to add to your recipe box or binder?


  I never had a box, but  I had and still have this recipe binder. 


Well, this is the story of this Jambalaya recipe.  It is such a great recipe and quite easy to make.



Now you can "google" it on your computer or iPad or smartphone, pin the recipe for later and have the greatest recipe box ever, but sometimes recipes like my Jambalaya recipe are the best with the sweetest memories.  I highly recommend you try this one!

Jambalaya

4 slices of bacon
1-1/2 lbs. Hillshire Farm Sausage (sliced)
(I use Kielbasa)
chopped onion
chopped green pepper
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 cup chopped okra
1 cup Minute Rice

In bacon fat, fry sausage, onion, pepper.  Add Rotel tomatoes, okra and rice.  Simmer together.

Serve to family and friends!!












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September 24, 2014

Chicken and Dressing Casserole




In the late 80's or early 90's, Delta Omicron Sorority sold cookbooks as a fundraiser.  I was a member of this sorority and bought one for myself.  It was published in 1989, and the name of it is Beta Sigma Phi Comfort Foods, and it is a compilation of recipes from Beta Sigma Phi sororities from all over the country.  It is one of my favorite cookbooks.

This is a great recipe to take to a potluck or to a friend or family member in need.  It never fails to please, and even in the days of getting recipes on the internet, I often get requests for this recipe.  It is one of my "go-to" comfort food dishes.


Chicken and Dressing Casserole:
(adapted from the Comfort Foods cookbook)

2 to 3 eggs beaten
1 10-ounce can cream of celery soup
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 - 6-ounce package of corn bread stuffing mix
2 bone-in chicken breasts cooked and shredded
2 1/2 cups broth
1 box of chicken broth

Cook chicken breasts in boxed chicken broth in a crockpot on high setting for three hours and low setting for one hour or cook on low until chicken is done.  Remove chicken from crockpot, reserving the broth.  Let chicken cool, and shred by hand.

In a bowl, combine eggs, soups, pepper, 1 cup of shredded cheese, corn bread stuffing mix, and 2 1/2 cups of broth from crockpot, mixing well.  Stir in shredded chicken.  Spoon into a 10 x 10 x 2 inch baking dish.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.







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September 18, 2014

"36" Banana Pudding




I am really happy about this banana pudding.  I saw this idea on Pinterest,  and I thought it was so awesome.  These are Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies, similar to a shortbread cookie.  They are delicious by themselves, dipped in Nutella, which is my latest obsession, that and Peanut Butter Poptarts,  or they are great instead of the traditional vanilla wafers in banana pudding. 


I was thinking about a dessert that my son and daughter-in-law could serve at their restaurant, and this one was perfect.   I think it looks classy, is easy and quick to make, and is delicious.  It can also be cut into the sweetest little portion, just enough after a big meal,  



I have shared this pudding recipe on my blog before with vanilla wafers, but I will share it again.  It is very easy and really delicious.  I lined the bottom of the dish with cookies, spread the pudding over that layer, and put another layer of cookies on top.  It is a little expensive to make,  and I think that the cookies on top would be enough.  I am making it again for Cudjoe's birthday party tomorrow night.  He liked it so much that's what he requested.  I am only going to put the cookies on top and see how we like that.


Here you go:

Using a mixer blend together:

1 5.25 ounce box of vanilla instant pudding
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 8-ounce carton of Cool Whip
1 cup of Water

Slice up four bananas and stir into pudding mixture.

Line bottom of baking dish with cookies.  Spread pudding on top and add a second layer of cookies.
(As I said earlier in this post, I am going to try just a top layer when I make it again.  I thought it was a little bit too much cookie.)

Refrigerate.  Serve to family and friends!
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September 15, 2014

The Traveling Vietnam Wall


The Traveling Vietnam Wall was at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale September 11 - 14.   My hubbie and I went up to see it.  The booklet that was handed out to us at the gate says "The 80% replica of the Washington D.C. memorial is a tangible symbol of recognition."    "Of the 58,300 names inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and this Traveling Vietnam Wall, 162 names are from 23 counties of Southern Illinois."


When we first walked through the gate, this is what we saw.  It was very moving.



The black flag flying below the American flag was raised while we were there, and it represents the soldiers who were missing in action.


It was a perfect day with beautiful blue skies, no humidity and fall-like temperatures.   So great for all involved.


It seemed to be coordinated with the Southern Illinois University/Southeast Missouri University football game, so people attending the game got a chance to stop by and see it.  If it is ever in your community,  I would certainly recommend seeing it.




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September 6, 2014

Rigatoni Primavera with Chicken


I made this for dinner recently, and, man, was it good.  I got the inspiration for this dish from a Weight Watchers Magazine I saw while checking out at the grocery store.  I bought the magazine, and it has some great recipes in it.  I'll have to refer to it again for more inspiration.



This dish is what I refer to as "restaurant quality".  When I eat out, I like to eat things that I either don't fix at home or don't do well at home.  We used to eat at a restaurant that was on a local golf course.  Sadly, it has closed.   They served a similar dish minus the chicken.   I just remembered as I'm writing this that it had capers it in.   I love pasta.  It is my very favorite thing to eat (besides chocolate chip cookies!).

Rigatoni Primavera with Chicken:

4 ounces uncooked Rigatoni
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 red pepper or yellow pepper
1/2 orange pepper
1/2 sweet onion
1 tomato, chopped
1 small zucchini squash, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 box chicken broth
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cut chicken breasts into pieces, salt and pepper,  and fry in olive oil and butter in a large skillet.  Cook chicken until it is done and remove to a paper towel-covered plate.  Saute peppers, onion, garlic, zucchini, and tomatoes in same skillet.  Add chicken broth and scrape up any drippings from chicken.

Meanwhile,  following directions on the pasta box, prepare the rigatoni.  Drain the rigatoni and rinse. Add the rigatoni and cooked chicken into the skillet with the sautéed vegetables.  

Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve to family and friends!







  

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September 3, 2014

Peach Sundae




It's the end of peach season in this little Midwestern town.  One of the local grocery stores still had a couple of boxes left, and I got some this evening to make this peach sundae.  They were very ripe, but perfect for this yummy little dessert.   


I made a simple syrup and poured it over chopped fresh peaches in a Mason jar.  After the peaches and simple syrup mixture set for awhile, Cudjoe and I had it over vanilla ice cream.


It you don't have time to bake a dessert or just want something simple and good, this fits the bill.

Peaches in Simple Syrup:

1.  Peel peaches and chop into small pieces.  

2.  Place the chopped peaches in a Mason jar. 

3.  On stovetop in a small sauce pan, pour in one cup sugar and one cup water.  Mix with a whisk and
     cook for 10 minutes.  

4.  Let cool slightly and pour over peaches in Mason jar.  

Serve over vanilla ice cream.   







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